The British government has been struggling desperately to try and find a solution to the Brexit crisis which is gripping the nation. Today, finally, the British Parliament has given a clear indication of what it wants the government to do — after a series of dramatic votes in the House of Commons, according to BBC News.
In 2016, the British people voted to leave the European Union in a sensational referendum. British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government have spent the last eighteen months trying to negotiate an agreement on the terms under which Britain will leave.
A deal was struck which the EU was happy with, but it needs the British Parliament to support it before the government can formally agree to it, too. A couple of weeks ago, British MPs rejected that deal en masse.
That left the British prime minister in a difficult situation, and Theresa May has been frantically trying to make changes to this deal ever since. Today, the British Parliament voted again on a series of amendments to the deal. These amendments would effectively instruct the British government on what to do next.
The crucial amendment was tabled by Conservative Party MP Graham Brady with the support of the government. This amendment called for the controversial backstop arrangement, which would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. — to be replaced by unspecified alternative measures.
This amendment passed by 317 votes to 301 — and Prime Minister May confirmed that she plans to go back to the European Union and seek these changes. The EU has, however, stated that such changes cannot, and will not, be made.
Some amendments were tabled in an effort to stop Britain from leaving the European Union at all. One such amendment, tabled by Labour Party MP Yvette Cooper, would have required the government to delay Brexit if an agreement couldn’t be reached. This amendment was believed to have wide support, but was eventually defeated by a tally of 321 votes to 298.
Other amendments which were designed to prevent the government from taking Britain out of the EU without a deal were tabled by MPs from all parties, but each one was voted down.
The government did lose one vote. An amendment by Conservative MP Caroline Spellman and Labour MP Jack Dromey — one which said that Parliament didn’t want Britain to leave the EU without a deal — squeaked through by a tally of 318 votes to 310.
However, this amendment is not legally binding, and it still remains the default position that Britain will leave the EU without a deal on March 29. With the EU refusing to negotiate further, this now seems the most likely outcome of one of the longest political sagas in British history.